Caddo Tales by Grasshopper

White Moon related a set of “funny stories” told him by old man Grasshopper, some of which are “tall stories” or stories of Spanish picaresque type like those recorded by Handy at Zuni.

Grasshopper said that once he lost his horse, it was gone almost a year. And one day he lost his hogs, they were gone a long time. Out hunting one day he saw a bunch of hogs up on a hill. He went up the hill and looked at the hogs; they were his hogs, nice and fat. He saw a tree move, he went up to it, there was his horse. He saw that the tree was growing on the back of the horse. When the horse had left he had a sore back. An acorn had fallen on the sore and grown into a tree. He could not get the tree out. So he cut it off, leaving the stumps of two limbs for a saddle. He drove the horse and the hogs home.

A party stopped one night to camp. They always turn their horses loose with the ropes dragging. One man had a big stallion and he always hobbled him at night. It was dark and he thought he would go and hobble his horse. All he could see in the dark was an outline of an animal. He went and hobbled the animal. Next morning when the people got up, they saw a big buffalo jumping up and down. The man could not find his horse. He had bobbled the buffalo in place of his horse.

When we were little boys once there were some big bear tracks up along the mountain; but nobody could find the bear. They hunted high and low over the mountains. We used to go over the mountains and push off rocks to see them roll down. One day I pushed off a rock, and all at once a bear jumped up and started running down hill and the rock ran after it. When they got to the foot of the mountain there was a deep creek. The old bear jumped it and went up the other bank. Of course the rock stopped there, but I believe but for the bank the rock would have killed the bear.

One time a young man (shiyatsi) married into a family (kin a’inua). In those days you had to be a good rider and a brave man. One day the young man’s father-in-law caught a horse and tied him up. It was a bronco. The old man got on and the horse threw him off. So of course it was up to the son-in-law to break the horse for him. He took hold of the rope and let the horse pull him along over the hill. When he got over the hill he led the horse up to a tree and whipped him with the other end of the rope and made him buck and kick until he was played out. After the horse was worn out, he loosened the rope and got on the horse and rode it back home. He rode it to his father-in-law and said that it was broken. They took the horse into the corral and let it stand a while. Finally the old man thought he would get on the horse, which was rested up. He got on the horse and it threw him again. The whole family were out watching. The young man grabbed the rope again, he hollered at the horse, “I see you’ve forgotten already.” The old man got up from the ground and called out to his son-in-law, “Don’t whip the horse any more!

One night, Grasshopper said, he went to put a bell on his horse. They were out on a hunting trip. He saw something dark. He put the bell on it. Next morning he could not find his horse or hear the bell. He looked where he had put the bell. There was the track of a big bear. He took up the trail and trailed the bear up through the mountains. Soon he heard a bell, he followed the sound. Finally he saw a big black bear walking down towards the creek. He followed, the bear heard him and started to run. As there was no chance of the bear getting away because of the bell, he left the bear and went back to camp and told the others to help him kill the bear. They all went up the mountain and killed the bear.

Once there was a party out hunting. They found a big tree where a bear had been climbing. One of the young men climbed up and put some fire down the hole. Everybody was standing round waiting for the bear to come out. The old bear came out, looked around at all the horses, and made a jump astride of one of them. The horses began to run. The bear bent down to some bushes and tore off a switch. The horse ran harder. He ran to a canyon where the bear jumped down and made off.

Caddo, Legends,

Parsons, Elsie Clews. Notes on the Caddo, Memories of the American Anthropological Association. Supplement to American Anthropologist, Volume 43, No. 3, Part 2. 1921.

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